Easy Instant Pot Paneer (Cottage Cheese) Pilaf

On weekdays when you are pressed for time, the Instant Pot is always a saviour. Just a bit of stirring and then let the @instantpotofficial do it’s magic.

For lunch today, I made a quick and easy paneer pilaf/ pulao which took less than 30 minutes to come together but was delicious nonetheless🤍

Ingredients (for 2 full servings):

200 g paneer (cottage cheese), cut in cubes

1 cup of basmati (or any long grained) rice, washed and drained

2 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

2 bay leaves

1 black cardamom

4 green cardamoms

4 cloves

1 cinnamon stick

1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste

2-3 slit green chilies (or according to your heat tolerance)

1 cup chopped veggies of your choice ( I used carrots, green peas and long beans)

1/2 tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder

1/2 tsp garam masala powder

2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves

1 tbsp chopped mint leaves (optional)

Salt to taste

Method:

(You could do this in a pressure cooker as well, only the timing & settings may vary)

Before you start cooking, wash and drain 1 cup of basmati rice. Keep aside in a colander.

Put the instant pot on sauté mode and heat some ghee (clarified butter). Throw in whole spices like cumin seeds, bay leaves, black and green cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and a few peppercorns.

Once fragrant, add thinly sliced onions, ginger-garlic paste, the slit green chilies and stir fry until the onions are golden and the raw smell of ginger-garlic goes away. Now add the chopped veggies of your choice and continue to fry.

For seasoning, add some salt, red chilli powder, garam masala powder and chopped coriander leaves. You could also add mint leaves if you have. Mix everything well.

Throw in the paneer and the washed rice and mix all until well combined. Add 11/2 cup of water and adjust the salt.

Press the keep warm/ cancel function and close the lid of the instant pot (make sure that the steam release handle is in the sealing position). Now press the manual button and let the pulao cook for 8-9 minutes. Let the pressure release on its own if you have time.

Serve hot with some chilled raita 🙂

Turkish Sambali (Eggless Semolina Cake with Almonds)

Moist and decadent, the eggless semolina cake with almonds drenched in a lemon-sugar syrup is a popular Turkish dessert quite similar to basbousa and you can find them on the countless street side eateries in Turkey😋

Only 5 ingredients and 10 minutes of prep, it can’t get any simpler to make a delicious yet easy dessert on weekends when you don’t want to toil much in the kitchen.

The sugar syrup to glaze the sambali varies- sometimes it’s rose, sometimes lemon or even orange. I prefer lemon for it’s refreshing citrusy zing.

Try this easy recipe to make your tea time more delicious 🙂

Ingredients:

For the cake:

1 cup granulated sugar (I used brown)

2 cups semolina (preferably fine)

1 cup milk (preferably full fat)

1/2 tsp baking soda

Soaked and peeled almonds for garnish

For the syrup:

3/4 cup sugar

1 cup water

2 tbsp lemon juice (you can switch this with rose water or orange juice)

Method:

In a bowl, mix together the granulated sugar, semolina, baking soda and milk.

Now pour the batter into a baking dish lined with a parchment paper and let it rest for at least 30 minutes to an hour. This will help the semolina absorb all the milk.

Now make cuts on the set batter with a knife into your desired shape and garnish with peeled almonds (soak the almonds in hot water for 15-20 minutes to remove the skin easily).

Bake in a preheated oven for 35-40 minutes at 170 degree Celsius (or until a knife comes out clean, when inserted).

Prepare the sugar syrup in a pot by boiling 3/4 cup sugar and 1 cup water on medium heat. Squeeze 2 tbsp lemon juice in between and let the syrup cool down and all the sugar dissolves.

Now drizzle the syrup over the sambali making sure it glazes the whole cake. You can serve immediately but the best way would be to let it rest for at least 2 hours before serving (so that the cake soaks up the syrup nicely).

Enjoy with your evening tea 🤍

Aloor Bora (Bengali style crispy potato fritters with chilies)

Recipe no: 4 from my #regionalkitchensofindia series

This has to be the easiest recipe among all that I’ve ever shared on my blog.

Maa used to make this quite often during my growing up years and I loved these fritters with some rice and lentils. Best comfort food ever🤍 I still remember coming back home from school, quickly changing and rushing to the kitchen to see what’s for supper. That really was the highlight of my day!

So I knew I had to include this simple dish in my #regionalkitchensofindia series. Most of us have the usual potato chips/ fries/ aloo bhaja at home all the time, but have you tried fritters with the potato skin unpeeled, Bengali style?

Bengal had faced several challenges in its long history which had adverse implications on its economy. As a result, women came up with several innovative ways to utilise everything they had in their kitchen and minimise wastage. No peels, skins, stems or fish head got thrown away 😅

You can enjoy this with either a simple meal like dal-chawal (lentil and rice) or with your evening cuppa. Simple pleasures of life 🙂

Ingredients (for about 10 small fritters):

9-10 small potatoes, boiled (don’t remove the skin)

1 tsp roasted cumin powder

3 finely chopped green chilies

1 tsp finely chopped coriander leaves

Salt to taste

3 tsp rice flour

Mustard oil to deep fry

Method:

Boil the potatoes & mash them without removing the skin. That’s the essence of this dish.

Add salt, roasted cumin powder, lots of chopped green chilies and coriander leaves. Throw in the rice flour for binding and mix everything well.

Make small balls and fry them on medium heat in very hot oil (preferably mustard oil).

Shoukheen Lau (Traditional bengali style bottle gourd/ lauki curry with grated coconut and mustard)

Recipe no: 2 from my #regionalkitchensofindia series

A legacy of lost flavours…

Durga pujo (most important festival for Bengalis) at my choto pishi’s (paternal aunt) in the suburbs of Calcutta dates back to the early 1960s. The huge imposing estate in Naihati close to the Ganges has witnessed many a grand celebration over the years when cousins far and near and members across generations would gather to participate in the festivities with much fervour.

Of the many pujo bhog (food offered to goddess Durga) recipes, the one that stayed with me is this bottle gourd dish with shorshe baata (mustard paste) and narkel kora (grated coconut).

The humble lau/ lauki/ bottle gourd with earthy flavours results in a hearty soulful dish reminiscent of glorious days gone by 🙂

Ingredients:

1 medium sized bottle gourd (lau), chopped in thin slices

1/2 tsp black mustard seeds

1 slit green chilli

2 whole green chilies

4 tbsp grated coconut

1/2 tsp sugar

Salt to taste

2 tbsp mustard oil

For mustard paste:

1 tsp black mustard seeds

2 tsp yellow mustard seeds

Salt to taste

1 small green chilli

1/3 cup warm water

Method:

Take a medium sized bottle gourd/ lau and chop it up in thin slices as shown in the picture below.

Heat a frying pan with mustard oil until it’s smoking hot and then temper it with mustard seeds and a slit green chilli. Once fragrant, add the chopped bottle gourd/ lauki and continue to stir fry on medium-high heat for 5 minutes.

Now cover the pan and let it cook on low heat. Meanwhile for the mustard paste, throw in the two mustard seeds, green chilli and salt in a blender with some warm water and let it rest for at least 10 minutes. Now blend few times to get a fine paste. The longer you soak the mustard seeds, the better.

Remove the cover from the pan and add the mustard paste and mix everything well and cook for 5 minutes. Add salt as per your taste.

Slowly add in the grated coconut and sugar and stir fry on medium heat for another 5-6 minutes. Throw in 2 green chilies and cover and cook for 10-15 more minutes or until the lau/ bottle gourd is well combined. There is no need to add any additional water.

Switch off the flame and give it a standing time for 5 minutes. Best served with some plain white rice 🙂

Did you know that the bottle gourd skin is actually very delicious when fried?!

Next time you prepare this or any other bottle gourd dish, don’t throw away the peels.

Chop them up in very fine slices along with some thinly sliced potatoes and stir fry them in oil (preferably mustard) tempered with nigella (kalonji) seeds and slit green chilies. Add in salt and turmeric powder and finish off with a sprinkling of some poppy (posto) seeds on top before taking it off from the stove.

Ta daa ! Your delicious lau khosha bhaja/ (fried bottle gourd skin) is ready!

Authentic Chhanar Dalna (Bengali Cottage Cheese Kofta Curry)

While cleaning my bookshelf a couple of days back, I stumbled upon this slightly mildewed Bengali cookbook ‘Randhan Shikkha‘ which translates to ‘cooking lesson’. The book is from the 1950s and belonged to my late mother-in-law who had given it to me knowing my love for cooking and vintage recipes 🙂

A treasure trove of earthy Bengali dishes long forgotten…..

That’s when I decided to dedicate this whole month to recreating uncelebrated heritage recipes from the regional kitchens of India that no longer enjoy the privilege of being talked about, written about or included in the menus of a typical Indian restaurant.

These culinary classics from our grandmothers’ times are slowly getting lost in the age of convenience and fusion food.

So what better way to start the new year than to share some of the most authentic regional recipes starting with what else but Bengali cuisine. After all, Indian food has so much more to offer than just butter chicken, chole bhature, masala dosa or mishti doi!

Recipe no: 1 from my #regionalkitchensofindia series.

Chhana/ Chana = cottage cheese; dalna = gravy/ curry.

Soft pillowy fried cottage cheese (chhana) balls simmered in a freshly made ginger-cumin-green chili based gravy, finished with a big dollop of ghee (clarified butter).

Chhana is not to be confused with paneer. Technically they are made in the same way but chhana is much softer and moister and is kneaded like a dough to make soft balls for kofta curries or the iconic rasgullas.

Looking back I recall my thakuma (grandma) cooking her signature cottage cheese and potato curry on special occasions when niramish (vegetarian) meals meant strictly no-onion and no-garlic. My maa still makes it every year during nabobarsho (Bengali new year) if she’s in town.

The dish probably has its origin back in the times when Bengali Hindu widows were prohibited from eating anything non-vegetarian including onion and garlic, so women prepared a lot of recipes with milk in order to get required protein in their food and since then the recipes have passed down several generations.

The quintessential ‘aada-jeere baata‘ (ginger-cumin paste) is the heart of his curry. The gorgeous aroma of this paste made in the mortar-pestle evokes a sense of comfort and transports me straight to my thakuma’s hneshel (grandma’s kitchen).

Bittersweet memories!

Try out this simple recipe the next time you want some protein-rich vegetarian dish. It is guaranteed to make your tastebuds dance!

Ingredients (9-10 medium sized koftas):

The original recipe calls for homemade chhana/ chhena (cottage cheese), but I used Nanak’s fresh paneer which tastes fantastic and is extremely soft, making it the perfect substitute. For those of you unsure of your chhana making skills or are pressed for time, I would highly advise to get very good quality fresh paneer made from full fat milk.

For the chhana/ cottage cheese koftas:

220 g fresh paneer, crumbled

1 tbsp all purpose flour/ maida

1 tsp sugar

Salt to taste

White oil to shallow fry

For the gravy:

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 large bay leaf

1 large cinnamon stick

4-5 green cardamom

3 cloves

A paste made of 1 tsp cumin seeds, 1 green chili and 2 inch ginger chunk (preferably in a mortar-pestle)

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1/2 tsp kashmiri red chili powder

2 medium potatoes diced in cubes

1/2 chopped tomato

2 whole green chilies

1/2 tsp sugar

Salt to taste

11/2 tbsp white oil

1 tsp ghee (clarified butter)

1/2 tsp garam masala (preferably Bengali gorom moshla)

1 small cup warm water

Method:

In a bowl add the crumbled paneer, all purpose flour, salt, sugar and knead well like a dough for at least 6-7 minutes. Now divide the dough into slightly flattened balls/ koftas of equal size.

Heat oil in a frying pan and shallow fry the koftas on medium heat until golden brown on both sides. It takes about 2-21/2 minutes on each side. Remove from the pan and keep aside.

In the same frying pan (remove the excess oil, only keep about 2 tbsp), temper the oil with cumin seeds, bay leaf, cinnamon, cardamoms and cloves. Once the spices are fragrant, turn the heat into medium-low and add the ginger-cumin-green chili paste into the pan carefully as the oil may start spluttering a lot. Stir fry for 2 minutes.

This is the time to add the potatoes, red chili powder and turmeric. Keep frying for few more minutes until the potatoes are softer. Now throw in the chopped tomatoes and whole green chilies and continue to fry until the oil separates and the spices are well cooked.

Add some warm water (depending on how you want the gravy consistency to be), salt and sugar and let it come to a boil. Cover and cook for 5 more minutes.

Now add the koftas/ channa balls into the gravy, a dollop of ghee and a sprinkling of garam masala. Cover and let it simmer on low heat for 2-3 minutes.

Switch off the flame and keep it covered (standing time) for 5 more minutes. Serve hot with steaming white rice or ghee bhaat 🙂

Instant Rava (Semolina) Masala Uttapams with 2 Epic Chutneys

What do you do when you crave something spicy yet nothing unhealthy? Because the last few weeks were only about cookies, cakes and calorie rich food!

You quickly rustle up some masala uttapams😋

For the uninitiated, uttapams are thick savoury pancakes made of either rice and lentils or sooji/ semolina, topped with chopped veggies and traditionally served as a breakfast meal in southern India.

Instant uttapams are undoubtedly one of the easiest things to make and are very flavourful and delicious with some homemade peanut chutney. As the name suggests- instant uttapams don’t need to be fermented for a long time, making them the perfect option for a quick yet scrumptious weeknight dinner when you don’t want to toil in the kitchen after a long day. Phew!

I made some for dinner yesterday and also whipped up two lip smacking chutneys that go well with these uttapams. I also have a bonus spicy potatoes (dry) recipe for you, which you can use either as a filling for masala dosas, grilled sandwiches or as a side with these savoury pancakes. Go ahead and enjoy 😉

And yes! before I forget, here’s wishing all of you a wonderful 2021. May god bless you all with good health & happiness 🙂

Ingredients:

For the uttapams (4 medium sized):

1 cup rava/ sooji/ semolina

1/2 cup yogurt

1 cup (approx) water

1/2 tsp baking soda

Salt to taste

Finely chopped coriander, green chilies, tomatoes and onions for topping

Red chili powder/ paprika for topping

For spicy potatoes

6-7 medium potatoes boiled and chopped into 4 pieces

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

A large pinch of asafetida (Heeng)

2 dry red chilies

1 tsp black mustard seeds

10-12 curry leaves

1/2 tsp grated ginger

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1/2 tsp red chili powder (I always use Kashmiri red chili powder as it’s very mild but rich in colour)

2 tbsp oil (any white oil)

Salt to taste

For peanut chutney

3/4 cup peanuts

1/2 cup desiccated coconut

3 dried red chilies

1 fat clove of garlic

1 small piece of tamarind

10-12 curry leaves

A pinch of asafetida (heeng)

1/2 tsp mustard seeds

1 tbsp white oil

1 tsp black/ urad lentil seeds (I used ‘matar’/ yellow split pea lentil)

Salt to taste

For spicy tomato chutney

1 large dried red chili

2 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped

1 medium onion, roughly chopped

2 inch ginger, roughly sliced

Method:

Peanut chutney

Heat a frying pan with a tbsp of oil and throw in the peanuts. Roast for a while until you get the lovely aroma. Now add 1 dried red chili and desiccated coconut and keep stir frying on medium flame for 3-4 minutes or until the coconut bits are lightly browned.

Add the garlic clove and mix everything for another 30 seconds to a minute. Transfer the mixture in a blending jar and keep it aside to let it cool down a bit. Now throw in the tamarind piece, little water, salt to taste and blend to a smooth paste.

For tempering, heat some oil in a small tempering pan/ tadka pan. When hot, add a pinch of asafetida and mustard seeds. When the seeds start spluttering, add the curry leaves, 2 dried red chilies and the lentil seeds. After 20-30 seconds, gently (carefully) pour the flavoured oil on the peanut paste. Mix well and serve.

Spicy tomato chutney

Heat a frying pan with oil and throw in all the ingredients listed under ‘tomato chutney’ and stir fry for 4-5 minutes. Now let it cool for a while and then transfer to a blender to be blitzed to a smooth paste. Voila! It’s that simple.

You can use both the chutneys in multiple ways- pakodas, fritters, chips, and fries.

Spicy dry potatoes

Heat the same frying pan with oil and temper it with asafetida, mustard seeds and dried red chilies. When the seeds start spluttering like before, add in the curry leaves, grated ginger and onion slices. Mix everything well and now throw in the boiled potatoes, red chili powder and turmeric powder. Stir fry for 3-4 minutes and then sprinkle some water and cover and cook on medium heat for another 2-3 minutes. It’s ready to be served!

Masala uttapams

In a bowl add the sooji/ semolina, yogurt, water, salt and baking soda. Combine everything well to form a batter & leave aside for 5 mins. Now heat a tava/ flat pan on high until smoking hot and add a tsp of oil. Turn the flame on medium now and pour a big ladle of the batter into the center of the tava and spread well using the back of the round-ish ladle.

Add some finely chopped onions, tomatoes, chilies & coriander on top & sprinkle red chilli powder/ paprika. After a minute or so, flip over the uttapam and cook on the other side until golden brownish.

You can even grate some paneer or cheese on top. Serve hot with the chutneys or even ketchup/ sauce if you wish!

Boozy Holiday Fruit Cake (Eggless) & a Christmas Nostalgia

Boozy holiday rich fruit cake (eggless) with dried cranberries, dates and raisins soaked in red wine for a month!

Christmas in Calcutta is an emotion. While it may ruffle some feathers, I have to admit that Calcutta is probably the most secular city in India which celebrates festivals like Christmas not out of any religious compulsion but because it’s a delightful celebration of life, something that lifts your spirits.

For those of us who grew up in Calcutta, the festival is synonymous with Nahoum’s rich fruit cake. Surprisingly in December the whole city gets busy in Christmas preps, and the Jewish bakeries and neighbourhood confectionaries start selling homemade plum cakes that are made with rum soaked raisins, dates and candied peels. All of a sudden, Ruma kakima’s sleepy bakery in the dusty bylanes of Free School Street is abuzz with activities.

Nahoum’s will remain my most favourite always- their dense and rich fruit cakes are so moist and loaded with dry fruits. This is my ode to their legendary cakes as i reminisce about the bygone Christmas days of my adolescence when I would patiently wait in a long queue outside the store with my mum just to get my share of treats. That was my Santa moment.

The authentic Christmas plum cake/ fruit cake in Calcutta is prepared with dried fruits soaked in rum for a prolonged period and most recipes are handed down through generations. I have used red wine instead and have also used greek yogurt instead of eggs which is honestly unthinkable in the original recipe. But then sometimes it’s okay to deviate from the original and tweak things here and there just for fun, doesn’t take away anything from the classic 🙂

Ingredients:

Chopped dried cranberries, black raisins, sultanas, pitted dates, candied ginger soaked in red wine (or dark rum) for at least 2-3 weeks (the longer the better)

11/2 cup all purpose flour

1/4 tsp each of ground cinnamon, clove and nutmeg

1 tbsp orange zest

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup olive oil (or any vegetable oil)

1 cup brown sugar (preferably) or raw cane sugar (no white sugar)

1 cup greek yogurt

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup of chopped mixed nuts like almonds, pistachios and cashews

Method:

In a mixing bowl, add 1/2 cup olive oil and 1 cup brown sugar. Whisk it well for a couple of minutes until well combined.

Now add the yogurt and vanilla extract and whisk again. It will take a couple of minutes to whisk everything to a smooth consistency.

In a separate bowl, mix all the dry ingredients. Start with 11/2 cup of all purpose flour. Toss in the ground spices, orange zest (make sure to avoid grating the bitter white pith), baking soda, baking powder and mix everything well with the whisk.

Now throw in the flour mixture into the wet bowl and fold with a spatula. No whisking from this point anymore and also ensure that you don’t overmix the batter. The batter is supposed to be dense and heavy.

The last step is to add the chopped nuts and soaked dried fruits into the cake batter and fold again with the spatula. Reserve some of the soaked fruits for spooning on top of the cake.

Line a square baking pan with a parchment paper and pour in the batter. Sprinkle the remaining soaked dried fruits on top and bake in a pre heated oven at 160 degree C for around 60 minutes. Let it cool down completely before serving.

*Some tips*

Always pack the cake tightly in an aluminum foil to store it. This preserves its shape and moisture.

The cake tastes better with time. The longer it soaks all the goodness from the rum/ wine, the better it tastes.

‘Feed’ the cake with wine/ rum by poking holes all over it with a toothpick and then keep it tightly packed.

Could it get any boozier??

Holiday Spiced Cappuccino

Do you relish your coffee the traditional way?

Or do you love playing around with various flavours to accentuate your coffee experience?

Nothing can be more comforting than curling up on the couch in your fuzzy socks, with your favourite cappuccino with a spicy twist. As much as I love my coffee, I enjoy experimenting with different ingredients that bring out the best flavours. Hints of warm cinnamon and nutmeg makes this a delicious drink that does taste of Christmas.

Do give this recipe a try because Tis the season 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 140 ml hot brewed espresso shot (I used the Nespresso Vivalto Lungo capsule)
  • 140 ml warm milk froth (a good mix of foam & milk)
  • 1 pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch of ground nutmeg
  • few drops of vanilla essence
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 10 small marshmallows

Method:

In a serving glass/ cup, mix 140 ml of freshly brewed espresso with 1 tsp of brown sugar (or as per your preference) and a pinch of ground nutmeg.

Meanwhile take 140 ml of milk, add few drops of vanilla essence and make froth using your favourite frother/ whisk. I used the Aeroccino 3 which makes great hot and creamy milk froth for the perfect cappuccino. Please note that the froth should at least be warm.

Pour the milk into the glass and top it off with the milk froth/ foam.

Garnish with some lightly toasted marshmallows and a sprinkle of ground cinnamon. Enjoy 🙂

*Some tips*

Always use freshly brewed espresso.

You could also add a dash of ground clove along with the cinnamon in the espresso for an enhanced flavour.

2% milk (dairy) is best for cappuccinos. You could substitute with any plant based milk but the froth/ foam may not be of a great quality.

Gajar Halwa Tarts

Gajar Halwa Tarts

As a kid I remember eagerly waiting for winters. Marigold blooms, afternoon picnics, cozy blankets & of course bowls of warm & comforting gajar ka halwa (carrot pudding) made by maa.

I would help her peel & grate the carrots in the hope of getting a bigger share than my sis 😀 Those indeed were the days. During winters, we would rush home from school, throw our bags & run to the kitchen to see what’s in store, just in case we were in for any surprises! Truth be told, my sis was least interested, it was more my thing. Nothing gave me more joy than watching maa or our cook whip up something fancy in the kitchen while I eagerly waited for my turn to relish them 🙂

With the winters approaching, I have been craving gajar ka halwa for a while now & thought of following maa’s recipe with a few tweaks here & there & also turn it into tarts. Not only they taste heavenly but look pretty too! Go ahead & try it out.

Here’s the recipe (for 12 tarts):

Ingredients

450 g peeled & grated carrot

2 tbsp each of almonds, pistachios & cashew

60-70 ml ghee (clarified butter)

200 ml milk (I used oat milk)

130 ml condensed milk

1 tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp cardamom powder

12 tart shells (I used store bought)

Pistachios for garnishing

Method

Roughly chop 2 tbsp each of almonds, pistachios & cashew & roast them in 2 tsp ghee. Keep aside. Heat 50 ml ghee in a heavy bottomed pan & add about 450g peeled & grated carrot.

Mix well & cook until the colour changes & the carrot looks well combined.

Halfway add 2-3 tbsp ghee again & stir everything well.

After 10 mins add 200ml milk (I used oat milk).

Keep stirring & simmering on medium heat until the mixture reaches boiling point. This is where you add 130 ml of condensed milk & 1 tbsp sugar. Lower the heat & let everything combine well & come together.

Keep stirring for 10 more mins until the carrot no longer sticks to the pan. Stir in half a tsp of cardamom powder & the fried nuts back into the pan & continue to cook until the halwa turns dark orange/ reddish. 

You can have it as it is or make tarts like I did I used store bought tart shells. Fill each shell with the halwa (pudding) after poking holes in the tarts with a fork. Now line them up on a baking tray.

Before going in the oven

Preheat oven to 180-190 degree celsius & bake the tarts for 12-13 mins. Garnish with chopped pistachios & drizzle some condensed milk before serving.

Little cups of heaven 🙂

Gluten-free Besan Cheela (Savoury Pancakes with Chickpea Flour & Spices)

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Since last few days, S & I have been eating out a lot, mostly junk and calorie rich stuff because let’s just admit that best things in life are always fattening 😀 But as much as we love eating out, we also ensure that we eat clean most of the time. So I keep coming back to wholesome nutritious food and this New Year, I made a resolution to cut out processed food from my life and embrace real food.

The cheelas/ pancakes I made for lunch today were delightfully tasty and very healthy too. Chickpea flour, also known as besan/ gram flour, is gluten free. It is highly nutritious as it’s packed with protein, iron and fiber. For a guilt free indulgence, chickpea flour is definitely one of the best options and in India we use it to cook both savoury and sweet dishes.

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I will share healthy and tasty recipes from time to time. For now, note down the ingredients and method of making besan cheelas.

Ingredients (for 4-5 pancakes):

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large tomato, finely chopped
  • 2-3 green chilies, finely chopped (depending on your heat tolerance)
  • 1 inch ginger piece, grated
  • 2 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped
  • For the batter:
  • 2 cups chickpea flour
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil (or any white oil would do)
  • Water to make a runny batter
  • Following spices to be added:
  • 1 tsp carom seeds/ ajwain
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds/ jeera
  • ½ tsp asafetida/ heeng
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri red chilly powder
  • ½ tsp coriander powder
  • ½ tsp garam masala powder
  • Salt to taste
  • A pinch of sugar

Method:

In a large bowl, take 2 cups of chickpea flour. Add in all the spices listed above. Mix well with a balloon whisk. Now throw in all the veggies into the bowl before adding water.

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This is done so that the flour absorbs all the moisture from the veggies, making it easy for us to understand the amount of water needed for the batter. Now slowly add water, until you get a runny batter. Mix well. Keep aside for 15-20 minutes.

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Heat oil in a tawa/ griddle. Pour some batter in the center of the griddle and spread evenly with a spatula or the back of a large spoon. Make sure that the pancake is not very thick. Let it cook for at least a minute or until you see the sides becoming brown and bubbles forming on top.

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Now drizzle some oil on the top and flip the pancake over. Drizzle oil on the sides and let it again cook for another 2 minutes. Keep flipping from time to time for a crispy finish.

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Serve hot with green chutney/ ketchup or some yogurt for a simple and nourishing meal 🙂

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